Life on the Great Plains

A cross-curricular lesson plan about life on the Great Plains.  The lesson includes reading and analyzing informational text, creating informational brochures, comparing and contrasting, summarizing, and writing letters. A strong tie to social studies issues makes this an excellent lesson for an American literature class.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3003.3.1
Write in a variety of modes, with particular emphasis on persuasion, for different purposes and audiences.
CLE 3003.6.3
Read, interpret, and analyze graphics that support complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3003.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of American literature from the colonial period to the present and make relevant comparisons.
CLE 3003.8.4
Analyze works of American literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Like the land itself, the history of the Great Plains can seem endless. For additional perspective on the region:
  • Explore the NativeWeb website for resources on the history and present-day life of Native Americans of the Great Plains. At the website's homepage, click on Geographic Region Index, then select US - Central for a list of links to websites maintained by the Cheyenne River Sioux and other Great Plains tribes.
  • Visit the ArchNet website for resources on the mammoth hunters who roamed the Great Plains in prehistoric times, as well as the Mandan and other early tribes of the upper Missouri whose way of life was based on agriculture and trade. At the website's homepage, click on Regional View, then click on North America in the interactive world map. Click on “American Midwest”, then scroll down the list of "Midwest" links for the South Dakota State Archeological Research Center.
  • Go to the New Deal Network website for documents and images from the "Dust Bowl" era, when drought and the Great Depression combined to drive thousands from the Great Plains in an exodus John Steinbeck portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Look in the website's Document Library for the Report of the Great Plains Drought Area Committee, and in the Photo Gallery for images of Dust Bowl life.
  • Research one way the competiton for resources has influenced life on the Great Plains by visiting the Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920 collection at the American Memory website. Documents here highlight in particular how seemingly enlightened policies, aimed at preserving wildlife and natural landmarks, inevitably threatened tribes who regarded the region's wildlife as a food source and its natural landmarks as sacred places. Compare this conflict between competing perceptions of the region to controversies that arise when urban preservationists identify a neighborhood as historic and work to impose their views on its inhabitants' way of life.